I’m a cryer. Yep. Sappy commercials make me weep. Sad songs reduce me to a puddle of goo. News stories involving death, especially that of a child, take me out at the knees. My family gets a kick out of it but its very frustrating for me at times. Damn it! I know Marley dies, I knew it before I finished the first viewing of the movie but I cry every time. Yesterday it was a blog post about a traumatized little girl. Real or fictional, the idea of suffering reduces me to a blubbering mess.
Today I read a story that simultaneously made me sob and furiously wish to be able to kick someone’s ass. A New York Post photographers ass to be precise. An editor too. You may have already heard the story or seen the picture that triggered these intense emotions but if not do yourself a favour and try not to Google it. It is the image of a man/husband/ father/ son moments before he is struck by a New York subway train. The disgusting accompanying headline, designed to shock and horrify is beyond tasteless and completely heartless.
The entire debacle raises the debate of whether the photographer had a moral obligation to drop the camera and try and save the man. It also calls into question whether the Post should have published the picture, even without the shocking headline. For most, the answer is clear and the photog and paper are clearly in the wrong. Sadly, there are many that feel they were simply doing their jobs. The man responsible for snapping the image of another man’s final terrifying moments claims he only took the picture(s) in order to alert the train conductor with his flash. Uh, right. He then proceeds to say he is haunted by the image. Not enough to stop him from editing and selling the proofs. Or, from demanding pay for interviews regarding it. I call bullshit! I would have more respect for someone who owned up to being too afraid to help. At least that wouldn’t display the kind of cold hearted apathy that defines a sociopath.
Comparisons were made to war atrocity pictures and natural disaster images. The difference is that war photos are taken in instances generally beyond the photographers control and usually of the aftermath. This story is a clear tale of the fall of decency in our society. When the payday becomes worth more than an actual human life. When the feelings of a family, already in the throes of despair over losing a loved one so horrifically, are completely disregarded in the thirst for sensationalism.
For me, I think I’d rather be overly empathetic and cry over sentimental fluff than to be someone who chooses to snap a picture of impending horror instead of doing everything I can to prevent it.
I might sob, some would say foolishly, over Old Yeller but I would never hesitate to help a dying man in order to get that perfect photograph.